Director of Public Prosecutions, Miss Sejilla Mc Dowall has formalized decision in cross-complaints involving Senator and Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, Ashelle Morgan, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Karim Nelson and shooting victim, Cornelius John. The complaints were made in relation to incidents arising on April 13th, 2021.
Senator Ashelle Morgan has been charged with assault with intent to commit wounding in respect of a complaint brought by Mr. Cornelius John while Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions has been charged with wounding and unlawful discharge of firearm in respect to a complaint brought by Mr. John. The shooting victim was slapped with two charges of threatening language, complaints brought against him by his wife Nicole John and the young senator, Ashelle Morgan.
This matter has been one of great public interest since April, when Mr. John first revealed events said to have taken place at his home on April 13th. John claims that he was shot at his residence by a tall gunman whom he did not recognize. He however said that the shooter was in the presence of another man and a woman, the woman whom he identified as Senator Morgan based on her voice and gait.
John claims that he was beaten, threatened and shot and was left without help or any form of medical care at his home. In several public appearances, John said that he is very familiar with Morgan since he has known her since she was growing up.
Though charges weren’t previously laid prior to June 24th, both Morgan and Nelson have been named as persons of interest in this matter by Commissioner of Police, Colin John. The third person alleged to have been present on the scene of the shooting remains unnamed.
Members of the public have been commenting on the issue, stating that actions should be taken by the authorities, while some members argued that proper investigations must be done before the authorities can act fairly. In the release by the office of the DPP, Miss Mc Dowall stated that she has had to “approach the matter with celerity whilst guarding against a rush to judgment, bearing in mind the interweaving facts and interests”.
The Director also referenced section 64(2) of the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Constitution Order, chapter 10 of the laws of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Revised Edition 2009, in highlighting that the office of the DPP is an independent constitutional office. She mentioned the role of the police is to investigate criminal investigations, whereas the prosecutor advises on such, while also prosecuting matters at the various courts nationwide.
According to the DPP, a number of witnesses provided statements in this matter. She informed that she has submitted a written to the Commissioner of Police, an action that she takes in all cross-complaint matters.
As a Minister of Justice, the DPP said that she has divorced herself from public discourse and is not influenced by politicking that may interfere with her decision-making in any way. Mc Dowall saw it fit to mention that there should be “no improper pressure or influence on, or interference with, the exercise of the powers of the Director of Public Prosecutions, by any entity or individual”. In her comments on justice, she reinforced that justice must be done but also saw it relevant to say that all accused are innocent until proven guilty.
“There are allegations of varying forms of violence which our society abhors. Even so, constitutionally, all persons facing criminal charges are deemed to be innocent, until or unless, a court of law determines guilt. As an ordered society, the Administration of Justice should take its free course, without prejudice, especially when matters are sub judice (meaning, under judicial consideration and therefore prohibited from public discussion elsewhere).